It’s been 16 long years since Dragon Warrior VII launched on the Sony PlayStation in the year 2000. Now, in 2016, Nintendo, along with video game developer and publisher, Square Enix, have decided to re-release the classic JRPG video game on the Nintendo 3DS, and along with it comes a new, shiny coat of paint. Although Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past feels like a painful chore to endure throughout the initial phase of the experience, it eventually opens up in multiple regards, and allows the player to begin their quest for the forgotten fragments.
Puzzling the story together
Like most adolescents who wish to explore the world and its vast mysteries, the main trio found in Dragon Quest VII want to do just that. You have the basic, generic character for whom you name, and his bestie – that’s right I said bestie – Kiefer, who happens to be the Prince of his kingdom. There’s also Maribel, the wet-blanket in the group who packs a powerful punch in combat via magic attacks.
The premise here is to locate the various fragments which resurrect diminished environments from within the kingdom. In order to collect these forgotten fragments, which are essentially puzzle pieces that unlock new environments, the group must fight powerful enemies and travel back-and-forth through time and find every lost fragment. Although this seems appealing, don’t expect to dive into combat any time soon.
When the fight finally arrives
When you finally reach the opportunity to slap a few monsters in the face with a bamboo spear, there’s no better feeling. Performing such tasks within Dragon Quest VII’s very simple to maneuver combat system is, well…simple. Should one desire to project magic or slash an enemy with an attack, it can easily be done, and the same could be said about fleeing from the engagement as well. Though the game deals away with random encounters and instead places monsters in the past as they appear to be extinct within the present, no convoluted menu systems exists during these instances as every battle-task you need is simply labeled for your convenience.
It’s certainly obvious that Dragon Quest VII sticks to a more simplistic combat-system, and to that I say thank you very much, because the last thing we need during an extensive playthrough is a convoluted battle system.
A necessary slog
Unlike its PlayStation counterpart, which launched as Dragon Warrior VII in the year 2000, Dragon Quest VII’s introduction has been cut down to one to two hours instead of the original three to four. Though one could easily spend more than three hours within the initial portion of the adventure by exploring every nook and cranny and chatting with available NPCs, I found myself blowing right through the first part of the game, only because I was dying to battle against something. Those battles I was looking for are unfortunately non-existent during this time. Rather than throwing the individual directly into battle within the first few moments of the game, developers instead use this time to build characters, the world, and its inhabitants. And it is, in that regard, an absolute success as I found myself completely invested in the narrative, the world in which I explore, and the characters for whom I control.
Though the introduction was certainly a chore to plow through, first-time JRPG enthusiasts should be warned as this portion of the game may easily disenchant you from continuing.
More scavenger than treasure hunt
The play structure found within Dragon Quest VII quickly falls into an unfortunate turn of repetitiveness within the first few hours of gameplay. Just when you’ve thought the adventure would unfold, allowing the user to explore the vast world of unknown and wonder, free as a bird, you’re suddenly stricken with yet another fetch quest. These frequent occurrences do serve a purpose, however, as they grant the player access to much needed puzzle pieces which unlock more environments to explore.
Though unvaried, yet absolutely necessary, I would have preferred to explore the wonderful kingdom and its atmosphere on my own accord, making the collection of fragments appear more as a free-roam treasure hunt rather than the presented hand-holding scavenger hunt.
The Final Say-so
Although Dragon Quest VII feels very much like a chore during the initial phase of the game, it’s all worth enduring because the developers do such a great job at building the narrative, along with the characters, the world, and its inhabitants. Even though the title may be daunting for those new to the genre, it’s definitely worth your time if you have plenty of time to spare. Once you’ve managed to stick it out and eventually reach the title’s simplistic combat system, level-grinding through various locations, new and old, becomes an addicting pastime when things start to become monotonous.
JRPGs are known to be lengthy, and Dragon Quest VII is one is to no exception, but it’s certainly worth checking out. After all, there’s a reason why the original title sold more than 4 million units in Japan, and it’s up to you to find out why.